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Internet Slowdown Day: Net Neutrality advocates claim success as FCC confirms record comments top Nipplegate

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Americans apparently think that the ongoing debate on net neutrality is more important than an exposed nipple.

Gigi Sohn, special counsel for external affairs of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), announced over Twitter that the number of comments collected by the agency regarding the second set of net neutrality rules proposed by FCC chairman Tom Wheeler has reached a total of 1,477,301 comments on Monday.

By contrast, artist Janet Jackson's Nipplegate scandal, in which her breast was partially revealed at the end of her performance with singer Justin Timberlake during 2004's Super Bowl halftime, garnered 1.4 million comments.

The comments are fueled largely by net neutrality advocates, which are calling for stronger FCC rules that will prevent Internet service providers (ISPs) such as Comcast and Verizon to create "paid prioritization" deals with content providers to ensure that delivery of their content to end consumers takes precedence over other providers' content.

Around 60 percent of the comments come from organized organizations called on by net neutrality groups such as Free Press and Demand Program to voice their opinions against Internet fast lanes to the FCC, says Sunlight Foundation, which conducted a study of 800,000 or more than half of these comments. Most of them, around two-thirds, called for the FCC to re-classify ISPs as common carriers, which would provide government greater powers to oversee the operation of Internet providers.

College student Christine Schaeur from Seattle said in her comment that she did not want to give the ISPs full control of what she can and cannot do on the Internet.

"ISPs could have too much power to determine my Internet experience by providing better access to some services but not others," she said.

Other commenters were not as diplomatic, with one nicknamed Pissed American saying he "hoped you are all ashamed of yourselves."

With Wednesday's Internet Slowdown Day seeing several high-profile websites, such as Netflix, Kickstarter, Reddit, Tumblr, Boing Boing and Etsy to name a few, the comment numbers are expected to rise. Websites participating in the protest feature the loading icon on their home page to demonstrate how it looks like to users if ISPs are allowed to strike paid prioritization deals, although they will not exactly slow down their loading times. They also feature a link that leads them to a website called battleforthe.net, where they are urged to send a letter to their representatives to support strong net neutrality rules before the second round of commenting closes on Monday, September 15.

The FCC is currently developing a second set of net neutrality rules after a first set was struck down by the courts because, as Verizon pointed out, the FCC does not have authority to implement those rules over ISPs because they are not classified as common carriers. The second set of rules, however, faced public outcry upon announcement because it involved a clause that could allow ISPs to charge higher fees to ensure faster delivery of content through its network's pipes.

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